While the primary definition of investment is the act of putting money into financial schemes, shares, property, or a commercial venture, investment has another meaning. This second meaning, is to endow someone or something with a quality or attribute, a definition that should be held at the forefront of every business’s strategy regardless of its size. Every business wants diligence, zeal, and curiosity from its staff, but to achieve all of these, they need to apply generative power and invest.
This piece will focus on the growing need for the investment in people that is often missed completely by management due to financial constraints and lack of awareness. Many employees feel stagnant and disengaged, and human resource company Investors in People found that one in four employees in the UK feel unhappy at work, with 30% saying that they lack career progression opportunities.
There’s an outdated belief that investing in staff improvement will lead them to jump ship and take their new-found skills and knowledge elsewhere, but this is completely untrue. Lack of staff investment can act as an assault on your own business, nullifying the effects of otherwise good business output through negativity that ripples through the business as latent hostility, and through the industry as a substandard reputation.
Expectations go both ways, and unfortunately, many businesses seem to be blinkered when it comes to those of their staff. It’s vital for businesses to invest in their staff both personally and professionally, as the two are not disjunctive, in order to reassert their statuses as decent employers.
These expectations aren’t part of some kind of entitled attitude. Investment in staff can improve morale, maintain retention, combat turnover, and even bolster a business’s reputation. Additionally, this form of investment needn’t be laborious or expensive. Considering that a person working 40 hours a week will have worked 90,360 hours from the ages of 20 to 65, a large chunk of our lives is spent at work, and this time should be spent engaging with self-improvement as much as possible in order to fulfil our job functions to the highest quality. Businesses should act as propelling force for staff, not an estranging one.
In what ways can businesses invest in their staff? Here are some ideas:
- Offer a stipend for books, seminars, and courses
- Set up Individual Development Plans for each member of staff – and follow through on them
- Conduct monthly check-ups on the status of the Individual Development Plans
- Hold a team building exercise
- Offer a commission or bonus on a project that incentivises autonomy and accountability on top of basic salary
- Offer employees stock options
- Implement wellness programs. These could be lunchtime sports activities such as yoga, or you could create health-related If finances allow, invest in a massage chair and a quiet nap room for staff
- Create weekly recognition reports and monthly awards for achievement. To be recognised for work goes a long way, as most people feel unappreciated in their roles
- Celebrate work anniversaries. This will combat turnover significantly, especially if the thanks are given by the executive team
- Transition from within. If staff aren’t sure of their career path, there may be another job for them within your organisation. Help to accommodate them if this is the case
- Offer benefits that are relevant to your staff. This may be something like free food, or something else that they feel would really help them
- Allow staff time to volunteer during work hours. Participating in community/social betterment is beneficial to staff and the greater good
As an SME, how has your business added value to its employees? Leave us a comment on our social media accounts.